The other day, Susie and watched The Man with Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. It was one of those movies that had been in my Netflix queue for so long that I couldn’t be sure exactly why it was there. All in all it was entertaining and forgettable. Except for the conversation between Levy’s character and Jackson’s on the topic of foul language. Fidler (Levy) tells Vann (Jackson) that cursing doesn’t make him cool or scary and that he should try to stop, particularly using the F-word. He suggests that a good way to stop is to add “crying out loud” after each utterance until he found himself saying “for crying out loud” instead. We’ve tried it around our house and it has a comic effect but doesn’t feel anything like the real thing.
Add to that the story in this month’s Scientific American proclaiming a new record for the F-word in music. Apparently, there was a week this spring in which three of the top ten songs on Billboard’s pop music chart featured use of the word (two in the title). It’s enough to make one wonder what’s happening to our civility; or is it? I think fuck has been so overused that it’s lost some of its vulgarity. The impact is nothing like it was in the good old days when the word was only used in cases where real venom was required. I’m certainly more cavalier about using it than back in the days when it would guarantee a taste of soap if any adult in my life heard the word creep out of my mouth.
Yet I understand those who are still deeply offended when they hear the word. That word for me is the N-word. I don’t care what color the speaker is, the word is offensive to me. No matter how much it gets used, it still offends me and reduces the speaker in my estimation from that moment on. It is this deep disgust with a word that works to keep me more cautious with my use of other foul language. I’m sure there are others who are equally upset by some of them.